Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)tr. A.J.Boyle & R.D.Woodard
Ianus habet finem. cum carmine crescit et annus:
alter ut hic mensis, sic liber alter eat.
nunc primum velis, elegi, maioribus itis:
exiguum, memini, nuper eratis opus.
ipse ego vos habui faciles in amore ministros,
cum lusit numeris prima iuventa suis.
idem sacra cano signataque tempora fastis:
ecquis ad haec illinc crederet esse viam?
haec mea militia est; ferimus quae possumus arma,
dextraque non omni munere nostra vacat.
si mihi non valido torquentur pila lacerto
nec bellatoris terga premuntur equi,
nec galea tegimur, nec acuto cingimur ense
(his habilis telis quilibet esse potest),
at tua prosequimur studioso pectore, Caesar,
nomina, per titulos ingredimurque tuos.
ergo ades et placido paulum mea munera voltu
respice, pacando siquid ab hoste vacat.

Februa Romani dixere piamina patres:
nunc quoque dant verbo plurima signa fidem.
pontifices ab rege petunt et flamine lanas,
quis veterum lingua februa nomen erat;
quaeque capit lictor domibus purgamina certis,
torrida cum mica farra, vocantur idem;
nomen idem ramo, qui caesus ab arbore pura
casta sacerdotum tempora fronde tegit.
ipse ego flaminicam poscentem februa vidi;
februa poscenti pinea virga data est.
denique quodcumque est quo corpora nostra piantur,
hoc apud intonsos nomen habebat avos.

mensis ab his dictus, secta quia pelle Luperci
omne solum lustrant, idque piamen habent;
aut quia placatis sunt tempora pura sepulcris,
tum cum ferales praeteriere dies.
omne nefas omnemque mali purgamina causam
credebant nostri tollere posse senes.
Graecia principium moris dedit: illa nocentes
impia lustratos ponere facta putat.
Janus has ended. The year grows with my song:
Let Book Two advance with the second month.
Now, elegies, you first move with greater sails;
Late, I recall, you were a little work.
I myself had you as willing servants in love,
When my early youth played in its verses.
The same me sings of rites and times marked in the Fasti:
Who would believe the road from there led here?
This is my war service; we bear the arms we can,
My right hand is not without all function.
If I do not hurl spears with a muscular arm,
Or hold fast to the back of a war horse,
Or wear a helmet or buckle on a sharpened sword
(Anybody can handle these weapons),
We still follow your name, Caesar, with conscientious
Heart, and march forward through your titles.
Be present then, view my gift briefly with kindly eyes,
If there's time spare from pacifying foes.

Rome's Fathers called purifications februa;
And even now much attests the word's sense.
Priests ask the King-Priest and the Flamen for wool,
For which the ancient word was februa.
The roasted spelt and salt which the lictor carries
To clean certain houses are called the same.
The same term denotes a pure tree's severed bough
Whose leaves enshroud the chaste heads of priests.
I myself saw the Flaminica demand februa,
Her demand for februa gets a pine twig.
In sum, anything which purified our bodies
Had this name with our unshaven forebears.

The month is so named from the Luperci's atonement,
When they scour the whole ground with hide-strips;
Or since the ritual of tombs leaves the time pure,
When the days of the dead have departed.
Our elders believed that purgation could remove
All sinfulness and all cause of evil.
Greeks began the practice: they think purifying
The guilty peels off their impious acts.

Trans. Copyright © A.J.Boyle & R.D.Woodard, 2000 - publ. Penguin Classics this book
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